Tore Hillestad featured in Forbes

Photo of Tore Hillestad. Photo: Helge Skodvin
FORBES INTERVIEW: ‘When I went to the US, our daughter had just been born, and we suddenly realised how much it cost to get all the vaccines and other things we take for granted in Norway,’ says Tore Hillestad, NHH Executive Director. Photo: Helge Skodvin
NHH By Bluesky Education

8 February 2024 10:37

Tore Hillestad featured in Forbes

‘Norway is a small country but at NHH Executive we aspire to have an international reach,’ says Director Tore Hillestad.

Recently Tore Hillestad, Director of NHH Executive, was interviewed on Nordic leadership and executive education. Read a summary of the Forbes interview here.

What we all need to know about the noble art of Nordic leadership (Forbes article)

‘The Norwegian leadership style, and indeed in Scandinavian more broadly, reflects a flatter hierarchy,’ says Tore Hillestad, Director of NHH Executive:

‘This can be beneficial for innovation and faith in the system and is reflected in our wider society. We have a lot of trust in our government and societal leaders.’

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Land of happy people 

Indeed, Norway’s position in seventh place in the 2023 World Happiness Report ranking marks it as one of the most content societies on the planet.

Hillestad, who spent time in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, is able to draw on personal experience to reflect on how different societies and economies lead to regional differences in executive education.

‘In Norway, we have a welfare state where you get a lot of support from the government. When I went to the US, our daughter had just been born, and we suddenly realised how much it cost to get all the vaccines and other things we take for granted in Norway.’

influenced by US-produced research

While he believes that redistribution of wealth through tax systems, the rigidity of corporate hierarchies, and attitudes towards work-life balance reflected in parental leave policies are all examples of how societies and economies can shape different ideas about leaders’ roles and responsibilities, there are also many points where he sees an intersection.

‘I think it’s fair to say that our approach to executive education is influenced by theories and perspectives anchored in US-produced research, but combined with our own cultural attitude. We have to find a balance between these elements. Norway is a small country but at NHH Executive we aspire to have an international reach, so it’s important for us to engage and collaborate with other universities and organisations.’

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Responding to the needs of businesses 

NHH Norwegian School of Economics, a school that was founded to answer the needs of local businesses, it’s natural that collaboration should be deeply ingrained within the institution. Hillestad highlights the Seafood Management specialisation in the Executive MBA program, which was developed in response to a request from the seafood industry through the NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster.

This industry is not just important for the economy of Western Norway, but all around the world. According to a report published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in 2018, the global demand for seafood destined for human consumption is around 143.8 million tonnes per year. Norway is one of the world’s leading exporters of seafood. 

When designing a course to support leaders in this industry, Hillestad believes it’s important to cater to two different needs.

“We must be relevant both to intrapreneurs transforming established companies from within to make them more sustainable, but also to entrepreneurs who are thinking outside the box and creating new companies which are filling new gaps in the marketplace,” he says.


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The importance of research-led teaching

The art of achieving a careful balance is a common theme throughout NHH’s approach to delivering executive education. Hillestad emphasises that it’s not just the challenge of meeting different needs within the same program – it’s also about providing different approaches to teaching.

‘Historically, academic institutions have been quite driven by theories and research. That’s still an important part of our approach to executive education, but we’re also moving in the direction of more actionable learning.’

Hillestad has worked closely with AFF, Norway’s largest leadership and organisational development consultancy, to deliver a series of joint programs for the past 20 years. While AFF covers the more practical, boots-on-the-ground personal development training, NHH provides a thorough academic education rooted in the most recent publications from their many research centres – in particular, the centre Digital Innovation for Growth (DIG).

‘In the custom programs we offer, the majority of the academic resources we use in the classroom are produced by the DIG centre specifically,’ says Hillestad.